Anxious that the party’s popular vote could slip well below the 50% mark, the Central Committee of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party has decided to use President Ian Khama as their elections pin-up boy with the hope that his immense personal popularity and appeal will translate into a boost for the party’s dwindling fortunes.
Not for the first time, the party’s Executive Secretary, Batlang Serema, said the BDP was worried by a growing number of constituencies that have become marginal.
“Our intention is not just to win but to win big,” Serema said on Tuesday.
Serema was echoing the sentiments of President Ian Khama who has never made a secret of his intention to significantly increase the BDP’s popular vote which has been on the decline for a number of years now.
The 2009 General Elections will be the first the party contests under Ian Khama who was brought into politics with the explicit intention of not only neutralizing factions but also to increase the party’s popular appeal.
An increase of BDP’s popular vote would be a renewed vote of confidence on Khama, especially since there is a growing number of BDP members who have begun to doubt his true worth.
Buoyed by BDP’s declining fortunes, the opposition has also been quick to intensify their call for elections reform, especially the direct election of the President.
The Botswana Congress Party in particular has been very vehement that the current “winner takes it all” electoral system does not only compromise democracy but also fails short in reflecting the wishes of the voters.
BCP says it is weird that while the BDP captured less than 52% of the national vote, the ruling party occupies over 75% of the seats in parliament.
Serema said faced with such changing political dynamics, the BDP’s priority was to win big in its traditional heartlands as well as in those constituencies it captures from opposition so that they could increase their popular vote.
For a number of years now, BDP’s share of the popular vote has been declining, reaching below 52% in the last 2004 General Elections.
In a drastic show of desperation, Serema said as the Chief Campaigner Khama’s photographs will be placed along side that of candidates across the entire country.
This will be over and above the President being used to launch almost all the BDP candidates across the country.
“There is a strong thinking that we need not only to win more opposition constituencies but also to retain our marginal seats. Our primary goal is to increase our share of the popular vote. Where we usually win we should win big,” said Serema.
In that line the BDP will launch their manifesto on March 29, by which time their nation-wide campaign will start in earnest.
The manifesto team is led by party Secretary General Jacob Nkate.
He is assisted by Vincent Seretse, former Chief Executive of the state owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation.
The two have been asked to go ahead and create what the party calls the National Election Strategy Team (NEST).